26 April 2017

Review #599: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“There are all kinds of ways for a relationship to be tested, even broken, some, irrevocably; it’s the endings we’re unprepared for.”

----Katherine Owen

Paula Hawkins, the British international best-selling author, is back with her new psychological thriller, Into the Water that revolves around a small British town and on its ugly history of women drowning themselves into a pool, followed by the consequences and the mysteries they leave behind for their family and the townsfolk to live with it. Unfortunately, this book fails to live up to readers' expectation yet I think this story is going to survive for a pretty long time because this book is going to release while basking in the glory of the author's debut globally best-selling thriller, The Girl on the Train.


The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense.

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Beware the alluring cover of this book, beneath which lies a dark, and extremely confusing as hell psycho thriller, devoid of any thrill, and complete with only muffled voices of a handful of characters.

Nel Abbott, the celebrated writer and photographer and a single parent, is found dead at the bottom of the Drowning Pool in Beckford, a small British town. Survived by her 15 year old daughter, Lena and her estranged younger sister, Jules, Nel has left pages of her manuscript, in which she penned the history of female deaths and suicides in the Drowning Pool of her town from the beginning of time, as clues to her alleged-suicide. Although the young and ambitious female detective Erin thinks otherwise and rules out the possibility of the suicide of Nel Abbott and for that she needs to go back in time to explore and unravel those histories that the townsfolk rapaciously wants it to be left untouched and hidden beneath the surface of the black and clam river. Jules is forced to come back to her family home to face her sister's death and to take care of her niece whom she never met and also to face the horrible past that she left behind in this town. Lena is reluctant to be with her aunt, who never replied back or cared much for her mother, and now that she is back, Lena must learn to trust her, before the secrets, that she has been holding onto, drowns her. Louise is left devastated by her daughter's suicide that happened few weeks before Nel's death, and apparently thrilled about Nel's death, but the calm water of the river is also threatening her to shed her grudges against a young motherless teenage girl. Nickie knows too much but the problem is no one believes in her witchy stories, expect Nel but who has already met her tragic fate. Sean, torn apart by witnessing the horrific incident in his childhood, has now grown up and is investigating the Nel's death, but his secrets are eating him up and not to mention living under the same roof with his father, Patrick, the oldest member of this town, is a big challenge. Mark, the high school teacher, wants to escape the wretched town, where one death after another is frightening the hell out of him and is threatening enough to reveal the secret and illegal life that he has built around him.

I know the synopsis that I penned doesn't make much sense or add much fuel to the mystery that the story revolves around. Actually make that two, yes, that's right, there are two mysteries that both the story and this small town revolve around. And sadly both the mysteries are poorly penned, so very unlike the style of Hawkins which we got enough taste of it in her debut book. From the very first page itself, the incomplete and riddling perspectives of a hoard of characters, where every one plays a part in the mysterious suicides and the deaths of the towns women, left me perplexed to the very core, and instead of following the trail of the mystery, I found myself vouching and struggling to remember who said what and who is who pretty much the entire first half of the book.

The setting of Beckford is impeccably done as the author vividly captures the landscape, the lifestyle, the houses, the trees, the cliff and the most famous river of this small, sleepy English town. The author has also arrested the feel and the atmosphere of this town quite strikingly. Although most of the time, the prime focus of the book will linger on the stories and the point of views of the myriad characters, so there is not much time for readers to dwell on the town's beauty.

The writing style of the author has drastically fallen beyond her readers' imagination. If anyone has fallen in love with the author's writing style in the previous book, then this book will make those hate the writing with utmost intensity. Most of the time, I wanted to make the characters to stop speaking in so much riddles that made no sense at all. The mystery build-up fails tragically, also it fails to arouse any thrill inside the minds of the readers, or even fails to make them feel engaged or glued to or atleast interested enough to see where the story goes. The pacing is very slow, the story kept on dragging till the very end, and for any seasoned reader, this book will let them see the mystery with maximum clarity way before the second half hits the story line.

The characters are abysmally developed through out the story line. In this book, the characters are like a giant block of ice blocking the way towards the destination. So many distinct point of views only make it difficult for the readers to focus and conjure them to a single point. In her previous book, Hawkins, penned the narratives of those women who only mattered, thereby making it look feminist, whereas in this book, the author depicts the narratives of some men, who may or may not matter to the story line along with a hoard of female characters, thereby losing that slight feminine touch from the story line. Also the story line is so much marred by the confusion behind a teenager's suicide and the death of Nel, that the theme of the mystery loses its flair completely.

Disclaimer: Never read this book if you're sitting by the edge of some cliff, because it might drag you to your death. Not because of the cliff jumping that the women of this book go around, but from the dullness of the story.

If Hawkins has become your favorite writer after reading The Girl on the Train, then I'll ask those readers to skip her new book for good. As for others, read it only at your own risk!

Verdict: Don't pick a copy of this book because of so much hype!

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review an early review copy of the book.

Author Info:
Paula Hawkins is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, which was made into a major motion picture. Her new novel of psychological suspense, Into The Water, is coming May 2.
Visit her here

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